NFC North: Eric DeCosta


We've had two rapid-fire news developments pop up Friday concerning the Chicago Bears:

  1. Baltimore Ravens executive Eric DeCosta, who might have been the Bears' top candidate to succeed general manager Jerry Angelo, announced he will remain with the Ravens and won't interview for any outside jobs. The Bears had requested permission to interview DeCosta, who likely is the heir to Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome.
  2. The search for an offensive coordinator to replace Mike Martz, meanwhile, has reached its expected conclusion. As first reported by Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, offensive line coach Mike Tice has been promoted to the job.

There's not much more we can say about DeCosta's decision. It's easy to say the Bears' job has limited attraction for a big-time general manager candidate, considering he will be required to inherit coach Lovie Smith. Most general managers prefer to hire their own people, including the coach. But DeCosta also turned down opportunities to interview for jobs where he would hire the head coach. One name to keep in mind for the Bears continues to be Atlanta Falcons executive Les Snead.

Tice's ascension makes sense for the reasons we've been discussing for weeks. Mostly, it means the Bears won't start completely from scratch after hitting their offensive stride midway through the season. Tice shares some of Martz's terminology and root concepts, and has had two years to build a relationship with quarterback Jay Cutler. That puts the Bears ahead of where they would have been had they hired from the outside.

Tice, of course, is a much bigger proponent of the power running game than Martz was, and that puts him on a closer wavelength with Smith. It will also lead to a unique arrangement that presumably covers for some of the downsides this move would otherwise present.

Tice will call the plays for the first time in his career, according to the Bears' web site. But he will have a running-game focus, while a yet-to-be-hired quarterbacks coach will concentrate on the passing game.

The upside of that arrangement is that Tice will spend more time with the offensive line during the week, even though a new line coach will be hired. And it will also make the new quarterbacks coach more significant in the Bears' hierarchy than he otherwise would have been. (My first thought went to Jeremy Bates, Cutler's former quarterbacks coach when both were in the Denver Broncos. Just a guess, though.)

On the other hand, it will require a special degree of communication and cooperation for this to work.

There is a prevalent line of thought in the NFL that the play-caller and quarterback must be in lock-step and spend maximum time with each other during the practice week. Is that possible if Tice is focusing on the running game, and a quarterbacks coach who isn't the play-caller is spending more time with Cutler?

We'll find out. If the Bears truly become a run-oriented team under Tice, maybe it'll make more sense to have him work with the offensive line. Regardless, as we've discussed many times, there was no perfect solution awaiting the Bears on this issue. Starting over with a brand new coordinator and scheme, which would have been the fourth such change for Cutler in the past five years, wasn't appealing in the short-term. At this point, the Bears' best option was to find a way to make it work with Tice.
We're Black and Blue All Over:

It appears the Green Bay Packers' success will cost them at least one prominent member of their organization. Reggie McKenzie, the director of football operations who has been a key talent evaluator for the team since 1994, is set to become the general manager of the Oakland Raiders. ESPN's Adam Schefter has the story.

McKenzie was originally hired by former Packers general manager Ron Wolf, who has been advising the Raiders on their search. He will be the second member of Packers general manager Ted Thompson's front office to be hired in a similar role elsewhere; two years ago, executive John Schneider became the Seattle Seahawks' general manager.

McKenzie had been linked to the Chicago Bears' job because of his friendship with Bears coach Lovie Smith, but it appears the Raiders swooped in first.

The Packers are also monitoring the interviews of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, who has drawn interest for the head-coaching job in Kansas City and Miami. Quarterbacks coach Tom Clements was a candidate for the Penn State job, but it appears he will be staying after reports that New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien will be hired.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • The father of Packers guard T.J. Lang passed away Thursday, notes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
  • Being the top seed in the playoffs is no guarantee of postseason success, notes Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
  • Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Packers cornerback Tramon Williams: "But, bottom line, Williams' hasn't been the same shut-down, no-trespassing cover man of a year ago. For the Packers to return to the Super Bowl, they may need him to be. Williams remains confident."
  • Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press: "We've got a quarterback. No matter what happens Saturday night in New Orleans, no matter what unfolds in this first Lions playoff season since the last millennium, Detroit fans can say that sentence and take comfort in it."
  • Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams appears to have the following plan for dealing with Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, via Carlos Monarrez of the Free Press: "But we do play very physical, and one of the things that we do is guys that are 6-5 end up being 5-5 when they get flipped over on their head. They didn't say that the rule says that the ground couldn't hurt their head. So we've got to find ways to make the ground be a part of it. We won't make helmet-to-helmet contact."
  • Lions safety Louis Delmas has been silent this week as he prepares to return to the field. John Niyo of the Detroit News explains.
  • Last year, the Minnesota Vikings began interviewing potential replacements for offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell before firing him. It appears they're doing the same in 2011. They have scheduled former Tampa Bay Buccaneers assistant Raheem Morris for an interview Friday, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen. Current defensive coordinator Fred Pagac remains employed.
  • Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton wants all stadium proposals from all sites in his hands by Jan. 12. More from the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
  • Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com looks at four candidates for the Chicago Bears' general manager job.
  • The Bears stack up well against other teams seeking general managers, writes Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • The only candidate believed to have been contacted for the job is Baltimore Ravens executive Eric DeCosta, according to Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.

Eric DeCosta atop Bears' GM list?

January, 5, 2012
1/05/12
5:35
PM ET
For those curious whom the Chicago Bears have on their list of candidates to replace general manager Jerry Angelo, a list of names has begun to emerge.

The Bears requested permission to interview Baltimore Ravens executive Eric DeCosta, who is considered the heir apparent to general manager Ozzie Newsome and is also being pursued by multiple other teams. DeCosta is probably the most popular name on the market, followed closely by Atlanta Falcons executive Les Snead, whom the Bears are also vetting, according to ESPNChicago.com.

DeCosta and Snead would both bring backgrounds in talent evaluation, which Bears president Ted Phillips said was the primary attribute he is seeking. If they want to hire either man, the Bears will probably have to act quickly.

Other names that ESPNChicago.com has reported as possible candidates include Tennessee Titans executive Lake Dawson, Kansas City Chiefs executive Ray Farmer and Arizona Cardinals executive Steve Keim.

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